When 10-year-old Dylan Jones lost his Taid to lung cancer, he didn’t want to sit around and be sad. Instead, he hopped on his bike with his dad, Gareth to take on his biggest ever cycling challenge.
“Dylan adored his Taid, which is Welsh for grandad,” explains Gareth. “He inherited his love of football and is obsessed with all things Liverpool FC.
“Dylan was dad’s first grandchild. He came up to meet him within hours of his birth and was ever present in his life thereafter. After Dad retired, he started to refer to himself as “The Nurny” – acting as both Nurse + Nanny to Dylan when he was unwell, or we had childcare issues.
They were very close and there wasn’t a dry eye in sight when Dylan laid his flat cap on the casket when we said goodbye to him.
“As a respiratory doctor, I see a lot of people with lung cancer and like so many, Dad’s cancer didn’t show up until it was advanced. It’s impossible to know how long the cancer had been there but it might have been caught earlier if screening for lung cancer had been available.
“That’s one of the reasons we wanted to support Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, for all its work campaigning for screening. It will make a huge difference to so many people. I just wish it had been in place a few years ago and then maybe Dad would have still been here.
Wheels in Motion
“It was my wife, Helen, who suggested Dylan take on a fundraiser in memory of his Taid. Living on the Wirral, the Liverpool to Chester cycle was a perfect choice and Dylan agreed straightaway. I don’t think he realised how far it was!
“Dylan is a very fit and active kid. He plays football twice a week and does Junior Parkrun most Sundays. We’re lucky because where we live there are lots of off-road cycle paths so the boys and I will often get out on the trails on the weekends I’m not on call.
“After we signed up for the cycling challenge, we started to go on increasingly longer bike rides each weekend in the run up but had still not conquered 25 miles in one go by the time the race came around.
“Dylan was a bit nervous to start with but getting to ride through the longest road tunnel in the UK is a thrilling experience. Although he’d done a lot of training, Dylan found it really tough, but he got a lot of encouragement from other participants and got a real boost from the applause members of the public gave us upon recognising the Roy Castle tops we wore on the day.
“The route took us right past the bottom of our road and he got a massive cheer from his family and our lovely neighbours. His little brothers held up homemade signs to say how proud they were of him.
“We were both very tired at the end, but we were welcomed by members of the charity as we crossed the line with much needed drinks and sandwiches. We felt so supported.
On our way home after the bike ride, Dylan reflected that he thought that this challenge had been a better way of remembering his Taid rather than just feeling sad. He realised the money it has raised might help others and his Taid would have liked that.
“There are so many exciting areas of research currently in lung cancer and so much to do in terms of prevention as well, we both hope the money can help continue Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation’s important work.
“This charity is at the forefront of saving lives and supporting all those affected by lung cancer. Given what happened to Dad, it would be nice to think that some of the money will be spent helping to make more people aware of the new screening programme and saving more Taids so they can cheer on their grandchildren the way Dad would have done when Dylan finished his race.”
You can still donate to Dylan’s fundraiser by visiting his JustGiving page: justgiving.com/page/gareth-jones-1686506636256